Hallmark delivers 195 "Layoff Greetings" in Toronto
The family-run, Kansas City, Mo.-based, company said the abrupt move, the latest to hit Ontario's battered manufacturing sector, is expected to cut costs at a time when the Canadian dollar remains strong and the U.S. deals with a softening economy.
The announcement affects 335 employees in manufacturing in North America, including 80 workers at Hallmark's DaySpring Christian greeting cards subsidiary in Siloam Springs, Ark., and 60 at its Sunrise Greetings arm in Bloomington, Ind.
"It was very final. It was made clear you're no longer a Hallmark employee," said one former worker after the announcement at the Willowdale plant.
"I don't think there's a card for that," said the ex-employee who did not wish to be identified.
The 195 affected Toronto employees on both the morning and afternoon shifts, who make and package a variety of greeting cards, were told to report to work at 7:30 a.m. for a special meeting in the cafeteria.
They then were shown a video featuring David Hall, president of Hallmark Cards' North American operations, who explained they were being let go due to an overcapacity in manufacturing.
About 500 of the card company's other full-time jobs and 900 permanent part-time, including those at the Canadian headquarters on Consumers Rd., and those in distribution, retail, marketing, human resources and finance, are still safe.
Toronto-based leisure industry analyst Jacques Kavafian said not only are people finding cheaper cards from rivals in dollar stores and other chains, but the strong loonie and the weakening U.S. economy were most likely factors.
"It's not so much that more people are sending e-cards because that's like sending junk mail ... it's more to do with the dollar at par, and their operating cost is probably a lot less there (in the U.S.) too," he said.
Privately held Hallmark Cards Inc., now in its third generation of Hall family leadership, reported net revenue last year of $4.4 billion (U.S.). The card behemoth also owns crayon giant Crayola and Silly Putty. Hallmark has been in Canada for 77 years.